East Belfast in the Second World War

The factories, yards and residential areas of East Belfast suffered heavy damage during the Second World War and Luftwaffe bombs fell in April and May 1941.

East Belfast


Northern Ireland

East Belfast centres on the shipyard area of Belfast. Socially, it is a mixed area containing some old working-class terraced houses, more exclusive residences, and the imposing Harland and Wolff cranes.

The demographics of the area are socially mixed although mainly politically unionist. Inner-city working-class areas towards the shipyard give way to more exclusive upmarket areas. Recent redevelopment has ensured a steep rise in house prices.

During the Second World War, the area around the docks suffered greatly during the Belfast Blitz of April and May 1941.

The Royal Air Force based at RAF Sydenham operated bomber and fighter squadrons. Meanwhile, the shipyard built some of the Royal Navy’s finest vessels such as HMS Belfast.

Places of Interest

The following places will be of interest to anyone wishing to explore more of the area's Second World War heritage.

Belfast Lough, Belfast

Belfast Lough, Belfast


Today, Belfast Lough is a tranquil waterway but in the months preceding the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944, it was a hive of military activity.

Sydenham Airfield, Belfast

Sydenham Airfield, Belfast


Now George Best City Airport in Belfast but from 1939 to 1941, the dockside airfield site was RAF Sydenham and was home to Bomber Command 88 Squadron.

Map showing Abetta Parade, Belfast

Abetta Parade, Belfast


Abetta Parade is a residential street running off the Beersbridge Road, East Belfast. It was home to Rifleman Hugh Henry Millar of the Royal Ulster Rifles.

Map showing Albertbridge Road, Belfast

Albertbridge Road, Belfast


The Albertbridge Road is one of the main thoroughfares connecting residential East Belfast to the city centre. The area sustained heavy damage in the Blitz.

Map showing Beersbridge Road, Belfast

Beersbridge Road, Belfast


Once home to the Owen O'Cork Mills, Beersbridge Road in East Belfast is now the site of a mural depicting Polish airborne troops in the Second World War.

Map showing Belmont Road, Belfast

Belmont Road, Belfast


Belmont Road in East Belfast is home to Campbell College, a school taken over by His Majesty's Government during the Second World War for use as a hospital.

Map showing Bloomfield Avenue, Belfast

Bloomfield Avenue, Belfast


During the Second World War, Bloomfield Avenue in East Belfast was one site of the Belfast Rope Works, the largest works of its kind anywhere in the world.

Map showing Memel Street, Belfast

Memel Street, Belfast


Nothing remains of Memel Street or its neighbouring terraces now. It once stood just off Bridge End in a part of East Belfast devastated by the 1941 Blitz.

Map showing Newcastle Street, Belfast

Newcastle Street, Belfast


Newcastle Street off the Newtownards Road in East Belfast was devastated in the Belfast Blitz of 1941. The top end of the street no longer features on maps.

Map showing Parkgate Drive, Belfast

Parkgate Drive, Belfast


Parkgate Drive in the Sydenham area of East Belfast will be familiar to fans of Glentoran FC. Their ground is the site of a Second World War era Pillbox.

Map showing Queen’s Road, Belfast

Queen’s Road, Belfast


Queen's Road runs through what is now the Titanic Quarter in East Belfast. In 1941, Luftwaffe bombs rained down on the shipyard area in the Belfast Blitz.

Map showing Ravenhill Road, Belfast

Ravenhill Road, Belfast


During the Second World War, the Ravenhill Road in East Belfast saw the arrival of 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers to the Old Cromac Brewery.

Map showing Rotterdam Street, Belfast

Rotterdam Street, Belfast


The area around Rotterdam Street in Belfast has been greatly redeveloped in recent years with the loss of the nearby Sirocco Works and Queen's Quay Station.

Map showing Seaforde Street, Belfast

Seaforde Street, Belfast


Seaforde Street in East Belfast used to be a much longer thoroughfare. In the Second World War it ran from Newtownards Road on through to Beechfield Street.

Map showing Strandburn Street, Belfast

Strandburn Street, Belfast


Strandburn Street, East Belfast lies off Connsbrook Avenue. The street suffered damage during the 1941 Belfast Blitz with school buildings almost destroyed.

Map showing Thorndyke Street, Belfast

Thorndyke Street, Belfast


Thorndyke Street, Belfast is home to a large mural depicting the history of the area including a section remembering the Belfast Blitz of April 1941.

Map showing Trillick Street, Belfast

Trillick Street, Belfast


Trillick Street in East Belfast lies off Beersbridge Road over Lord Street. The area has undergone a lot of redevelopment since the Second World War.

Map showing Westbourne Street, Belfast

Westbourne Street, Belfast


Westbourne Street in East Belfast suffered great damage as Luftwaffe bombs fell on residential neigbourhoods around the shipyard during the Belfast Blitz.